Officials gather on Hwy 99 to commemorate day of remembrance for road traffic victims

Vicky Clarke, policy director of Washington Bikes, center, speaks at the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims press conference Monday. Other participants, L-R, were Brock Howell, Snohomish County Transportation Coalition; Ed Engel, Snohomish County Transportation Coalition; Liz Vogeli, Everett City Council; George Hurst, Lynnwood City Council and Megan Dunn, Snohomish County Council. (Photo courtesy Washington Bikes)

The Snohomish County Transportation Coalition (Snotrac) and Washington Bikes gathered with elected officials at the intersection of Airport Road and Highway 99/Evergreen Way Monday to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

“We want to work with the legislature in 2023 to lower the legal limit for intoxication, increase access to drivers education, build consumer awareness that heavier vehicles have bigger consequences in a crash, and limit turning right on red in urban areas,”  Washington Bikes Policy Director Vicky Clarke said during the event.

Everett City Councilmember Paula Rhyne stated that she had lost a dear friend to traffic violence and that, “As a public official, I remain committed to advocating for changes to our built environment that improve pedestrian, bike and car safety for all. We need mobility routes that are safe for everyone to participate in, no matter their mode of transportation.” Other elected officials present — Snohomish County Council Chair Megan Dunn and Everett City Councilmember Liz Vogeli — advocated for increased mobility options for everyone.

Map of fatal crashes in Snohomish County in from 2013 to November 2022.

Snohomish County saw an average of 11,989 crashes per year within the last decade. Just this year, 43 people have died in traffic collisions, which follows an upward trend of 40 deaths per year in the last decade. One of the deadliest corridors, officials said, is Highway 99/Evergreen Way, with a record high of seven fatal crashes in 2022 — a substantial increase from the past 10 years. Of those seven crashes, five involved pedestrians, including one at the location of Monday’s press event.

“These numbers are not just statistics,” said Ed Engel, Snotrac’s mobility justice advocate and a longtime Everett resident. “These people are our neighbors, family members and friends. Those that are close to us. And yet, we describe traffic violence as inevitable, costs for living in a society oriented around getting places via car. However, the truth is, these deaths are preventable.”

Washington Bikes Policy Director Clarke echoed a similar sentiment of the preventability of traffic violence, stating, “We acknowledge that every traffic death is preventable. Safer streets are possible — just look across the world; the US is an outlier.” According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. has the highest population-based (per capita) death rate among high-income nations analyzed. And while other high-income countries, between 2015 to 2019, saw the population-based death rate decrease by 10.4%, in the U.S. it increased by 0.1%.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,560 people died in roadway crashes inthe first quarter of 2022, a 7% increase compared to the same quarter in 2021 — the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002.

With the recent passage of the federal infrastructure bill, organizers noted, there is an opportunity to direct funding toward fixing deadly roads and improving walking and biking conditions – particularly for communities that have been traditionally underserved. “Accepting people dying on our streets is a policy choice. Let’s change policy,” Clarke said.

The World Day of Remembrance is an international event, started in 2005, honoring the 1.35 million people killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year and organizing for change to prevent such tragedies.

 

  1. So government wants to protect people that make bad decisions from themselves by creating more restrictions for the many and want to make the person that made the bad decision the victim. Does anyone else see a problem with this?

  2. I re-read the above and could not find a single reference to “government ” wanting to do much of anything. Perhaps I should read it again?

    What I did see was a group of people representing various coalitions urging our elected government to implement various measures (2nd paragraph) to make our roads safer and less prone to accidents.

    It is the right of the people to petition the government for redress, and it is the role of government to protect and preserve the safety and well-being of the people.

    I fail to see your point. Improving traffic safety is tyranny?

    1. The way I read it was that several people are elected officials and a couple of others are government paid lobbyists. Nothing wrong with wanting to make things safer but at what cost, things are pretty safe now you will never get to 100% safety. This didn’t suggest ideas on what they would like to see done in this article but I have read many different ideas and disagree with many. The reasons for the uptick in incidents are what they should be focused on and not redesigning the world.

  3. I suppose, if you are maimed or killed in a motor vehicle accident, you are a victim whether it was your fault or not. I would think anything sensible we can do in terms of improving the interaction between often careless people and potentially dangerous machines is a good idea.

    It’s taken me over 70 years to figure this out but there are really only two kinds of ideas; good and bad. Any other test of any idea is usually just a biased “red herring” of some sort. For example, an idea is often labeled not Christian, or not Conservative, or not Liberal which is a subjective value judgement that has little to do with the idea actually being good or bad for the majority of people.

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